When it comes to babies, its safe to say that they are all so very different! your baby is unique; your baby is not a robot. And while most parenting manuals can offer generalised advice and information, nobody really knows your baby quite like you do. That said, there are guidelines that we can refer to along this rocky road of parenting, so this week we thought we'd attempt to answer a fairly common question-how many naps does my baby need?
Why do babies need naps?
Ask any parent and they will tell you that nap time is the BEST time! But more importantly that that, babies need way more sleep than we do because this is when their bodies and brains start to take on the huge job of developing and growing physically and mentally. Sleep is also the time to rest and re-charge ready for the whatever else life can throw at us. So its important never to underestimate the power of the nap! Plus, you know- we need to put our feet up too!
How many naps does my baby need?
You probably know by now that your baby's routine tends to change almost daily and thats because they're developing at such a rapid rate. When it comes to looking at how many naps your baby needs it's easier to divide this up into stages, as a baby's sleep needs change as they grow.
Newborn: Tiny babies tend to sleep a lot- around 18 hours in 24. But there are no real patterns to the naps they take during the day, and they tend to be more as and when baby needs them. The best thing is to allow your baby to lead you here, since a routine of sorts might not be possible at first, and it can only become frustrating if you're trying to sort one! Just go with the flow.
1 to 4 months: At this age your baby will start to show some signs of being in a routine, but because they like to keep us on our toes, this can change almost daily! Many babies will take about four or five naps a day at this age, still mostly as and when needed, and dependent on what time baby wakes in the morning.
3 to 4 months: At this age you might notice that your baby takes around four naps a day, but as all babies are different this can vary so it could be three, it could be five. The key thing is being able to spot the sleep cues so that you can allow baby to sleep when the tiredness kicks in.
5 to 8 months: As they get older, babies will start to drop a nap during the day, so usually at this age its around three naps a day. Again though, it depends on your baby. Like adults, some need more sleep than others.
9 to 18 months: This is where your nap routine starts to take shape. Some babies may already be in a routine by this point, but many won't be. By this age, baby will usually need two naps a day, with some preferring to take longer one in the morning and a shorter one in the afternoon. Most babies tend to go for a shorter one in the morning, and longer in the afternoon.
15 months to 4 years: From this age its likely that your baby will need only one nap. So make the most of it! Some children will drop naps altogether long before they turn 4, and thats ok. Your little one will let you know!
How long in between naps?
This really depends on your baby. Some will only be able to manage an hour and a half and some will power on to two hours. It also depends on their age too. Look for sleep cues and act on them- the last thing you want is baby getting over tired and cranky.
How long to nap for?
As a general rule, less than an hour is not really a 'good nap' but if its a short cat nap in the morning or late afternoon then it might do the trick. If your baby wakes up happy and seems rested then they've probably had long enough. A grumpy baby often means they need more sleep!